Michael A. Taylor celebrates his inside the park grand slam home run in the Nationals’ 11-10 victory over the Phillies at Nationals Park on Friday September 8th.
The Nationals stand at 87-54 and 19 games up in the National League East with only 21 games left to play in the 2017 regular season. Here’s a look at a few interesting notes coming out of the Nats’ recent games.
JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Washington has won a Major League high (tied with Houston) 45 road games this year. With road series’ against the Braves, Mets and Phillies yet to be played, the team is only three wins away from its team best 48 victories in enemy ballparks. If the Nats go at least 5-4 on the final road trip of the year, they will become only the third National League team since 2000 with at least 50 road victories in a season. The 2005 St. Louis Cardinals and the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies had 50 road wins each.
The National League record for most road wins in a season is 53, last achieved by the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants who won 53 each in the 1993 season.
The Nationals have a Major League high 67 games this season in which their starting pitchers have thrown at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs. The Cleveland Indians are next in this category seven games behind the Nats at 60, and no other team is closer than 12 games away from the Nats’ mark (Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers have 55 such games each).
Cy Young Award candidates Gio Gonzalez (17), Max Scherzer (16) and Stephen Strasburg (13) have the most six innings plus, two or fewer runs allowed game for the National League East leaders. Tanner Roark is next with nine games, followed by Joe Ross and Edwin Jackson with five each and A.J. Cole with two.
The Nationals have not only been superb at preventing runs from scoring in 2017, they’ve also been great at scoring.
Last night’s 11-10 victory over the Phillies gave the Nats a Major League high 21 games in 2017 where they’ve scored 10 or more runs. Cleveland and Texas are next with 17 such games each. Colorado, with 15, is second in the National League.
The Nationals’ 21 10 plus runs scored contests has shattered the team mark of 14 such games, set in the 2016 season. The only other seasons in which Washington has had at least 10 games with runs scored in double figures are 2015 (11 games), 2012 (11), 2009 (10) and 2008 (10).
MILESTONES IN REACH
Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit his team leading 30th and 31st home runs of the season this week, putting him only two round trippers behind his personal best the 33 he hit in 2009. Zimmerman also has 95 RBI, and he appears primed to post the third 100 plus RBI season of his career. Zimmerman’s best RBI mark was 110 set in his rookie year of 2006. He drove in 106 runs in the 2009 season.
The notoriously streaky hitter has also shown signs that September might be a month to remember for him. In 27 at bats so far this month, Zimmerman has hit .370 with two homers and seven runs driven in.
HOME RUN HIGHLIGHTS
Trea Turner’s ninth home run of the year against the Phils on Friday puts him one blast away from joining the Nats’ 2017 ten plus home run club. Seven Nationals (Zimmerman with 31, Bryce Harper with 29, Anthony Rendon with 23, Daniel Murphy with 22, Michael A. Taylor with a career high 15, Brian Goodwin with 13 and Adam Lind with 11) have already put up double digit numbers in home runs.
Turner, Matt Wieters and Jayson Werth have all hit nine round trippers so far this year. If at least two of the three get to 10 or more home runs on the year, the Nats will set a record for the most double digit home run hitters in team history. The 2015 and 2016 squads both had eight players with 10 or more homers.
Michael A. Taylor’s inside the park grand slam home run on Friday was the fifth in Nats’ history, and the first with runners aboard. Austin Kearns (May 12, 2007 against Florida), Willie Harris (September 24, 2010 against Atlanta), Zimmerman (May 15, 2016 against Miami) and Stephen Drew (May 31, 2016 at Philadelphia) are the other Nationals who have hit inside the park homers.
LEADING BY A LOT
If the Nationals hold or improve on their current lead in the Nationals League East, they will become the first team since the 2008 Los Angeles Angels to win its division by at least 19 games. The 2008 Angels won their division by 21 games in that season.
11 teams have won their divisions by at least 15 games since the current divisional format was adopted. A word of caution for those thinking a big lead a team will be playing until the week of Halloween; before the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year, the six previous teams (including the 2014 Nats) who won their division by such a margin all lost in the Divisional Playoff round).
Here’s a look at the 11 teams who cruised to a divisional win, with a list of what happened to them in the post-season:
1995 Atlanta Braves Won NL East by 21 games- Won World Series
1995 Cleveland Indians Won AL Central by 30 games- Lost World Series to Atlanta
1998 Atlanta Braves Won NL East by 18 games- Lost in NLCS to San Diego
1998 New York Yankees Won AL East by 22 games- Won World Series
1999 Cleveland Indians Won AL Central by 21.5 games- Lost in the ALDS
2002 Atlanta Braves Won NL East by 19 games- Lost in the NLDS
2003 San Francisco Giants Won NL West by 15.5 games- Lost in NLDS
2008 Los Angeles Angels Won AL West by 21 games- Lost in ALDS
2011 Detroit Tigers Won AL Central by 15 games- Lost in ALDS
2014 Washington Nationals Won NL East by 17 games- Lost in NLDS
2016 Chicago Cubs Won NL Central by 17.5 games- Won World Series